The UNC-system Board of Governors gathered in the Center for School Leadership Development on Friday morning for their regular January meeting. At the meeting, several board members presented updates regarding the work of various committees and community members continued to discuss Silent Sam during the public comments session.
Community members continued to focus on Silent Sam during the public comments session
The January BOG meeting came only 10 days after the Board accepted Chancellor Carol Folt’s resignation and moved her departure date to the end of this month. Several community members spoke to a group of BOG members during the public comments session before the full board meeting.
Many of those who spoke during the public comments session focused their attention on what the University’s next steps should be after Folt’s removal of the Confederate Silent Sam statue.
“I certainly do not think the Board of Governors should resurrect Silent Sam in its original location; I think they should give it back to the Daughters of the Confederacy,” said Orange County resident and activist Heather Redding. “(The Board members) know that Silent Sam is a lightning rod for violence and white supremacy, and if they resurrect it, it’s going to come down again.”
James Ward, another community member who said he was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said he believes the actions of UNC’s administration were in “direct violation of state law,” and he felt the removal of the statue “whitewashes history.”
“The statue itself doesn’t create violence,” Ward said. “It’s been there, a very benign presence for a hundred years or better. People reacted to it and then created violence themselves. So, I think the whole notion that it had to be removed because it was a point of violence is bogus.”
UNC graduate student Lindsay Ayling challenged board member W. Marty Kotis on comments he made in December, in which he referred to student actions as terrorism.
“You are operating under the assumption that those who protest white supremacy are inherently criminal, and I cannot stress enough how dangerous that is,” Ayling said. “If you look at anti-racist protesters and see a terrorist insurgency to be crushed, you have no place in public education and you should resign your position effective immediately.”
Kotis said he specifically was referring to the holding of grades by graduate students for undergraduate students as being an act of terrorism.
Kotis also said that while he thinks the opportunity to engage with community members through the public comment sessions is important, he feels it might be more beneficial to have individuals use more informal methods, like a survey system, as opposed to prepared statements.
“I think today, there were several speakers who I think resonated more than others, where they were attempting to engage in dialogue,” Kotis said. “I think that’s more productive than if you just come in and yell and scream at somebody, that’s not going to move the ball forward for you.”
Committee on University Governance to review student conduct policies
Chairperson of the Committee David Powers presented updates regarding the committee’s last meeting. Powers said the committee was tasked with reviewing existing conduct policies for students, faculty and staff and to propose any changes following the passage of a motion at the BOG’s December meeting.
Additionally, Powers said the committee was asked to outline expectations for “conduct, provide for disciplinary review and prescribe minimum sanctions, including suspension, termination and expulsion for individuals who engage in certain activities.”
Powers did not expand on the specific activities that would require disciplinary action under the conduct policy during the open session.
The committee is set to continue their review at the board’s March meeting.
A systemwide military transfer credit database is set to launch later this year
Chairperson of the Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs William Webb reported on the progress of the database, which is aimed at ensuring credits for military students are clearly outlined and easily transferable. Webb said the database would help support opportunities for UNC to enroll and graduate more military students through “enhancing digital outreach and robust community college partnerships.”
“This capability will be revolutionary, and we’re very excited to see the database launch later this year,” Webb said.
Its tentative launch date is July.
Results of the first-ever employment engagement survey
The Committee on Historically Minority-Serving Institutions met last Thursday to explore “key human capital challenges” faced by HBCUs, said Chairperson Darrell Allison. Allison said part of the meeting involved a presentation of the results of the UNC-system’s first employment engagement survey.
“The committee saw how engagement results for historically minority-serving institutions stacked up against the benchmarks for the UNC-system,” Allison said.
The results of the survey have already been helpful in determining how to enhance the experiences of the employees within the different institutions, Allison said. Follow-up surveys will be conducted every two years.
Allison also reported that the committee discussed the scorecard for State Human Resources Act, or SHRA, employees, which looks at SHRA employee salaries as a percentage of the market rate for their specific job.
“A significant portion — in some cases, a majority — of the SHRA employees at our historically minority-serving institutions are paid less than 90 percent of the market rate for their position,” Allison said. “We have heard from our chancellors that talent retention is a significant hurdle for these institutions.”
Allison said continuing to explore compensation will constitute a large portion of the committee’s work for this year.
The UNC-system Leadership Institute, a proposed new program for supporting leaders and their “ability to confront the complex issues facing higher education,” will play a role in talent retention efforts, Allison said.
Allison said the institute, which is set to begin in 2020, will dedicate a third of positions specifically for participants from historically minority-serving institutions.
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